Crop processing and chop length of corn silage: effects on intake, digestion, and milk production by dairy cows
Bal, M.A.; Shaver, R.D.; Jirovec, A.G.; Shinners, K.J.; Coors, J.G.
Journal of Dairy Science 83(6): 1264-1273
ISSN/ISBN: 0022-0302 PMID: 10877392 DOI: 10.3168/jds.s0022-0302(00)74993-9
Effects of corn silage crop processing and chop length on intake, digestion, and milk production were evaluated. Corn silage treatments were harvested at one-half milkline stage of maturity (65% whole-plant moisture content) and at 0.95-cm theoretical length of cut without processing (control) or 0.95-, 1.45-, or 1.90-cm theoretical length of cut with processing at a 1-mm roll clearance. Twenty-four multiparous Holstein cows averaging 71 d in milk at trial initiation were in a replicated 4 x 4 Latin square design with 28-d periods; one square was comprised of ruminally cannulated cows for rumen measurements. Corn silage treatments were fed in total mixed rations containing 50% forage (67% corn silage and 33% alfalfa silage) and 50% corn and soybean meal based concentrate (dry matter basis). Dry matter intake (25.9 vs. 25.3 kg/d) and milk (46.0 vs. 44.8 kg/ d) and fat (1.42 vs. 1.35 kg/d) yields were higher for the processed corn silage treatments compared with the control corn silage. Within the processed corn silage treatments, there were no chop length effects on intake, milk production, or milk composition. Chewing activity was not different among the four corn silage treatments averaging 12 h/d. Total tract digestion of dietary starch was lower for control corn silage (95.1%) compared with fine, medium, and coarse processed corn silage treatments, which averaged 99.3%. Total tract digestion of dietary NDF was reduced for fine-processed corn silage compared with control corn silage and coarse-processed corn silage (28.4% vs. 33.9 and 33.7%, respectively). Processing corn silage improved dry matter intake, starch digestion, and lactation performance. Under the conditions of this study and with theoretical lengths of cut ranging from 0.95 to 1.90 cm, length of chop effects were minimal in processed corn silage.